For the Diamondbacks to have any hope of rallying during the second half of the season, they are going to have to reach the .500 mark — soon.
And to get to the break-even point, Arizona cannot lose many more games like Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Bank One Ballpark.
The Tribe entered the game with a 9-21 road record. Their pitcher was a rookie who had a 5.46 ERA. Though unheralded, Jason Davis was effective, holding the D-Backs to six hits and one earned run over seven innings.
“It doesn’t make any difference how recognizable a pitcher is,” manager Bob Brenly said. “If he makes his pitches and has good stuff, he’s going to get major league hitters out. (Davis) was impressive.. . . It’s just a funk we’re in offensively.”
More than halfway through what Arizona considers a 13-game stretch of opportunity, it is still struggling to even its record. The D-Backs were five games under .500 going into games against San Diego, the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland and Kansas City — a combined 43 games under going into Friday’s play.
Eight games into that stretch, they’re still five games under .500.
Rookie Edgar Gonzalez made his second career start on Friday, giving up 10 hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Cleveland got two runs on four hits in the sixth off Gonzalez to take the lead for good.
“I felt fine, but I made two bad pitches in the sixth inning,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “That was the ballgame.”
On the second bad pitch, Indians second baseman Brandon Phillips got redemption for an earlier error by breaking an 0-for-29 skid with a single that gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead.
“I was mad about the error,” Phillips said. “The ball slipped out of my hand. I was pretty (ticked) off. But it felt good to finally get a hit. That was something I’ve been praying about.”
Davis’ two unearned runs came thanks to Phillips’ fourth-inning miscue.
With the Tribe leading 2-1 with one out and Luis Gonzalez on first base, Shea Hillenbrand hit a grounder to Phillips, who awkwardly flipped the ball toward second, but it was nowhere near shortstop Omar Vizquel. Both men were safe. Two batters later, outfielder Robby Hammock scored both runners with a double, and Arizona led, 3-2.
“It was nice to get the offense started with a guy in scoring position,” said Hammock, called up from Class AAA Tucson earlier Friday. “It felt good to get thrown into the fire. Unfortunately, we came up short.”
In the seventh, the Indians got two more runs that were charged to Eddie Oropesa, who made his sixth appearance in seven days.
Arizona missed out on scoring in the fifth inning when Tony Womack was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second. Sent home by third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez on Mark Grace’s hard one-out single, Womack was beaten home by Matt Lawton’s throw.
It was the seventh time this season the D-Backs have had a runner tagged out between third and home.
“I don’t think it was a bad send,” Brenly said. “Unfortunately, all of the times we’ve sent someone the last two weeks and they’ve scored don’t get any attention. Our reports said (Lawton) could be run on. He just made a perfect throw.”